Health

Health and Life Expectancy

People of color in Tompkins County have significantly poorer health than white people. Black and Latinx people are almost twice as likely to die before age 75 than white people, and Black people are more than twice as likely to be hospitalized for diabetes. See the slideshow of charts below for other health disparities.

On a national level, a 2017 Nation magazine report summarizing research into the racial inequalities linked to black infant deaths, race turns out to be a factor all on its own even when other factors are controlled for – contributing to a two-to-one greater infant death rate between blacks and whites. The new research confirms and expands on studies done in the 1990s demonstrating close connections among race, discrimination, high blood pressure, and other “cardiovascular risk factors” (Chasin,  Barbara. 2004. Inequality and Violence in the United States 2004, pages 164 – 166)

Just living in a racist society creates considerable stress for people of color, regardless of socioeconomic status. This stress is directly associated with poorer health.

Recent public health and epidemiological studies have come up with the concept of “allostatic load,” “the cumulative wear and tear on the body’s systems owing to repeated adaptation to stressors” (cited in Carpenter 2017, page 15). The author translates this into a metaphor of “a thicket of thorny plants,” through which Black people must negotiate their lives constantly pricked by the racist structures around them.

The negative effects of racism in Tompkins County on health are many. Local people of color are more likely than white people to live in poverty, with less access to quality and preventative health care. They are less likely to own a car with which to get to medical appointments or evening or night shifts and less likely to have jobs with adequate sick leave or allowances for calling in sick. Just living in a racist society creates considerable stress for people of color, regardless of socioeconomic status. This stress is directly associated with poorer health.